Phone number spoofing is when someone or something is represented as being something that they are not, especially by misuse or contravention of accepted conventions. This is a practice typically associated with telephone calls or texts and involves using fake caller ID to mask the true source of incoming calls that appear to originate from your number, when in fact they originate from elsewhere.
While it may sound similar to Caller ID spoofing, that isn’t the case!
How to Stop Someone From Spoofing My Phone Number?
Assume a case where someone (a hacker) takes your phone number, uses it to create a fake profile at a dating site, or sends text messages on your behalf. This is the worst-case scenario. And it’s never fun. So here’s how to stop phone number spoofing.
1. Use Anti-Spoofing Applications
Using an anti-spoofing app can help prevent someone from spoofing your phone number. Spoofing apps allow you to see if the person on the other end of the line is actually who they say they are—and if not they will prevent future calls from being made using your phone number unless they pass through the same verification process again.
The latest generation of call spoofing apps helps thwart call spoofing by masking your actual phone number with a secondary one. While this may sound similar to spoofers, legitimate apps hide your real phone numbers to prevent identity theft and spam. Also, it complies with federal regulations that businesses mask their identities when calling other companies or consumers. So unless you use a masked number to commit fraud or harassment, federal law protects you.
2. Ask The Recipient To Block Your Number
If someone receives a spoofed call from you that appears to have been made in error, he or she may return the call.
So make it clear to the caller that he or she should block your number because once you’re blocked, spoofers are less likely to try and call again.
This is because the spoofers’ goal is to fool people into thinking they’re someone else. If the recipient blocks your number, it’s harder for scammers to carry out this deception.
You can also leave a voicemail on their phone explaining the situation and suggesting that they block your number. Please be very polite and apologetic, as this can be a confusing situation.
3. Seek Protection From Your Network Carrier
Another important step in stopping phone number spoofing is: seeking protection from your network service provider. You want to make sure that they’re aware of what’s happening and how their help can be helpful.
Once you’ve contacted your service provider, they’ll want to know what’s going on so they can get started on protecting your phone. You’ll need to provide them with some information about yourself and about how this issue affects you—your age, location, and contact information will all be relevant here. They may ask for more information at this time as well once they have a better understanding of what’s happening with your phone number.
Some carriers like AT&T offer advanced phone number spoofing protection in their paid subscriptions. Some additional features of the plan include VoIP software, reverse number lookup and a call log that lets you see all incoming and outgoing calls in detail.
4. File a Complaint with FCC
If you believe that your phone number has been spoofed and you want to stop it, then you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Consumer Complaint Center.
The FCC is responsible for regulating interstate and international communications by radio, wire, satellite, and cable in the U.S. Therefore, filing a complaint with them will allow you to take action against the perpetrator of this crime.
*The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 makes it illegal for someone to trick you into believing that an incoming call is from a legitimate source when it isn’t—but if no harm is intended (or caused) and there’s no intent to defraud or wrongfully obtain anything of value, then it’s not illegal.
The perpetrators must have acted “with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.” If such is the case, the FCC can levy a fine of up to $10,000 for each violation.
5. Change Your Phone Number
You’ve probably noticed that your phone number has been spoofed by a hacker. You may have even received a call from someone pretending to be you, asking for personal information.
This is scary, but it’s not going to last longer.
Because most cases of phone number spoofing occur accidentally, attackers often skip repeated attempts. They choose numbers at random and your chances of being picked are just as good as anyone else’s. In addition, they will likely move on to a different number in short order. When this happens, everything will return to normal for you and be an annoyance for someone else.
But if the spoofing persists, then you need to take your number off the line and use a new one. Of course, changing your phone number will not be as quick and simple as changing custom phone cases every other month, but in the name of safety and your peace of mind, it will be the best thing to do.
Best Phone Number Spoofing Prevention Tips
- Be Wary of Unsolicited Calls: This is the easiest way to avoid becoming a victim of phone number spoofing. If you don’t answer calls from unknown numbers, then you won’t have to worry about being spoofed or scammed by someone who has gained access to your line. In addition, there are apps like Truecaller that will show you information about incoming calls before you pick them up so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s safe for you to answer.
- Notice How The Caller Sounds: A spoofer’s tone tends to be insistent. They impose a sense of urgency to convince you to respond quickly. Also, if you’re hearing static on the line or other unusual noises, then this could be another sign that someone has spoofed your number.
- Don’t Enter Online Competitions or Surveys: There are many sites out there that offer the chance to win prizes by completing surveys or competitions. However, it’s important to remember that you’re giving away personal information when you enter these types of contests. And if someone manages to get access to your contact details, they can use them for anything like identity theft.
- Don’t Give Out Personal Information Over The Phone Unless You Know Who’s Asking For It and Why: The best way to avoid falling victim to a phone scam is simply not to give out personal information. If you get an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from your bank or other financial institution, don’t let them know any details about your account. Instead, hang up immediately and call back using the number on your credit card statement or a trusted contact’s number instead of the one provided by the caller.
- Limit The Amount of Personal Information Available Online: You can do this by removing yourself from public records databases like Whitepages and Facebook as well as social media sites like LinkedIn or Google+.
- Use Branded Calls: If you want to prevent phone number spoofing as a business, then you need to implement fully branded caller IDs that feature your company name and logo—along with a custom message. A branded call will display your business name on the receiver’s phone screen, rather than a number. When you give your customers a way to verify that you are who you say, it will make them feel more comfortable doing business with your organization. Not only that, but it increases the odds of response and creates a better experience for both you and your prospects.
While DMARC enforcement can prevent email spoofing, there is no magic bullet when it comes to stopping someone from spoofing your phone number. The best options you have are either to hope that the carrier or government will stop these spoofers or else look into an anti-spoofing app that will allow you to detect anonymous calls and not accept them.